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More than 5,000 limited quarantine requests

County grants ‘vast majority’ of requests so people can continue to work

As of Friday, Maui County officials had received well over 5,000 requests from travelers for a limited quarantine when arriving in the county following interisland travel.

The county began processing the requests Aug. 7, a day after Gov. David Ige issued his 11th emergency proclamation that ordered all interisland travelers to the Neighbor Islands to quarantine for 14 days — unless the counties grant an exemption. Travelers between the three-island Maui County are subject to the order; in-state travelers to Oahu are not subject to quarantine.

“The vast majority” of the applications were granted, said Maui County spokesman Chris Sugidono.

“Nearly all requests that have been approved relate to CISA (critical infrastructure sector jobs) travel to or within Maui County, or travelers who fly to Oahu for medical purposes and return to work in a CISA job,” Sugidono said.

Ige’s 10th emergency proclamation detailed the list of critical infrastructure sector jobs that may qualify for the limited “home to work” quarantine exemption. This includes those who work in health care, government facilities, financial industries, transportation, food and agriculture, communications, commercial facilities and utilities, such as energy and water. 

He added that a “small percentage” of those requests granted are for medical travel within the county, such as travel from Lanai or Molokai to Maui.  

There were a small percentage of people seeking limited quarantine to travel to shop, visit family or check on their property. These requests were denied. 

Some requests were denied because the applicant did not provide proper documentation, including a doctor’s note or letter confirming total freedom in the community. Limited quarantine means that the person may travel from home or quarantine or lodging site to work. They will not be able to go shopping or to the beach within 14 days of returning from travel. 

(Those returning to Maui on a transpacific flight must seek their limited quarantine exemption from the state at the website covidexemption@ hawaii.gov.)

Requests for limited exemptions will be denied for people who do not work or are retired and are not employed in critical infrastructure sector jobs, Sugidono said.

The limited exemption clarifications and details come amid uncertainty and questions by residents about the option.

Kihei resident Heinz Klehr said Thursday that he did not receive a limited quarantine exemption when he spent a day on Oahu to get a biopsy this week, but his caregiver, who traveled with him, got a limited quarantine exemption.

When going to the doctor on Maui last week prior to his Oahu trip, Klehr said his doctor told him that he could get an “exemption.” However, Klehr, who is 80 years old, does not qualify because he is retired.

Klehr also said he didn’t know how to fill out the limited quarantine form on the internet. He said he did fill out papers at the airport.

It turns out Klehr probably filled out the mandatory travel forms, which are available at the airport. However, the limited quarantine requires another set of forms, which are only available online, Sugidono said.

A new process for filling out mandatory travel forms will roll out Sept. 1, the state Office of Technology Services announced Friday. Those who need further assistance or have questions may call the Mayor’s Office at 270-7855, Sugidono added.

The county Department of Corporation Counsel reviews the online applications for limited quarantine in the county. Sugidono noted that the state attorney general’s office reviews requests for transpacific travelers.

It would not be efficient and too time consuming to have doctors or health officials reviewing thousands of limited quarantine requests, Sugidono said. Using county attorneys is appropriate because they review requests under the legal framework set forth in the proclamations.

State Department of Health officials were involved in developing the forms for the county’s limited quarantine. The mandatory traveler and the limited quarantine application forms may be found at www.mauicounty.gov. 

Sugidono said that those requesting limited quarantine to travel for work purposes will need to submit a letter on company letterhead, signed by the owner/office/manager of the company, describing the work conducted by the employee, as well as the travel dates, job site or work location and quarantine lodging location.

For medical purposes, the county requires both a doctor’s letter confirming the need for medical travel and the letter from the employer.

A benefit of having an electronic application system is that the information also can be accessed by the Maui Police Department, where officers have data on incoming travelers, including their quarantine locations, he said.

If people are found to violate their limited home-to-work exemption, the individual could face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to a year in jail, Sugidono said. Employers whose employees violate quarantine also may be restricted for limited quarantine exemptions. 

At first, there was a large influx of applications, more than 1,000 in the first three days that people were able to apply, Sugidono said. As interisland travelers became accustomed to the requirements and submitted complete applications with the required documentation, the processing time has decreased.

The county asks that travelers allow them as much time as possible to process limited quarantine requests in case additional information is needed. Currently, the county is able to get back to the requester within one to two days. If approved, the order is issued electronically, he said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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